Golden (if chilly) hockey memories, brought back to life

John's hockey team

A happy hockey memory from long, long ago: my brother John’s minor-hockey team, based, I believe, out of the old Cooper Arena, coldest place on the planet. Can you fill in any of the blanks in this list of names? Front row, from left: Darryl Love, ____ Declair, John Sedgwick (the goalie), Bill Bateman, Tim Toms; middle row, from left, _____ _____,  Mike Franks, _____ _____, Randy Gray (the star of the team), Dean Harris, Brian Willemsen; back row, from left: Harold Bailey, Wendell Sedgwick, Eldon Gray. (Photo courtesy of Wanda Franks)

When I was growing up here at the Manse, my younger brother John took up hockey, and ended up the goalie for his minor-league team. My family – my dad and mum, my sister, Melanie, and my brother Ken, the youngest, turned into quite the fans, and many were the times that we all piled into the car to accompany John to a home or away game. That in turn meant many afternoons and evenings spent in freezing-cold arenas – insulation? who needs insulation? – watching the games and cheering on the team. I can still vividly remember that heart-in-mouth feeling when a player from the other side would tear out on a breakaway and little John was the only thing between him and a goal. But John wasn’t bad, and as often as not he saved the day. Thrilling times!

(I’ve always felt rather badly that by the time Ken took up hockey, I at least was bored with it, and his games never got anything like the attention John’s did.)

Anyway, the other day I was given a wonderful reminder of those long-ago hockey days and nights. I was visiting with Dave and Wanda of the Hart’s-Riggs area, whose son, Michael, had played on the same team as John, and Wanda had a team photo – and she’d made me a copy! Which you can see at the top of this post. There the boys are, together again – and with my late father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, in his trademark hat, in the centre of the back row. I’m not quite sure why that is, because as far as I can recall Dad was never a coach of the team, but so what? It’s just wonderful to have this photo of him. And perhaps someone can fill me in as to why he would have been in that place of honour in the photo.

The list of players, as far as Wanda and Dave were able to figure out, is in the caption below the photo – and if you are able to fill in one or more of the blanks, please let me know. It would be terrific to have names for the full roster.

Meanwhile, there are two other things I have to ask about the picture:

One: Does anyone remember what the team’s name was? The players are wearing Minnesota North Stars-type jerseys; were they called the something-or-other North Stars?

Cooper Arena

The old Cooper Arena. I just dare you to find a colder place than the inside of that building on a cold winter night.

And two: Am I right that the team photo was taken at the old (but still standing – though not in use, I believe) arena in the hamlet of Cooper? Man, I remember that place as the site of some great community hockey games and skating parties. But mainly I remember it for being the coldest place on Earth. It could be 20 below outside, and inside the Cooper Arena it would be 30 below! I’m not sure how that could be, but it was. Aside from the dressing rooms, where there would be a roaring – and I mean roaring – wood fire in the cast-iron stoves, the rest of the old barn was insanely, unutterably, brutally cold.

Which of course just added to the excitement and the charm of a minor-league hockey game back in those glorious, happy old days.

8 thoughts on “Golden (if chilly) hockey memories, brought back to life

  1. Today’s blog post reminded me of one of my most embarrassing moments. Having never attended a hockey game since we were kids, my sister and I decided to go to a Winnipeg Jets game in 1987. I was living in Winnipeg, she was visiting. All we remembered from our youth was freezing to death while watching hockey games. We put on every article of outdoor clothing we owned, and walked into a fully-heated arena! Boy, did we ever feel dumb in our parkas and scarves and toques and mitts!

  2. Dad tied a lot of skates, encouraged various oddball exercises to keep our feet warm, and generally kept the mood upbeat. I don’t remember playing in Cooper, but there’s no mistaking that corrugated steel in the background. Is it possible we were a non-Madoc team that year? Your recollections are about a thousand times better than mine, and I was there!
    I think it was Randy Declair – only help I can give on the names.

  3. My friend Sharon McCormick would love to be on your blog list ( or whatever it’s called ) every week . Can you make that happen at your earliest ?
    I can’t read all your stories but love when I’m able . Keep ’em comin.
    Ray LeSage

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Ray, thank you again for your kind comments! I have emailed Sharon letting her know how to follow my posts, and just a few minutes ago got a very nice thank-you note back from her. So thrilled to have another Tweed native (now way across the country) following my news!

  4. I believe that the picture was taken in the Old Wellington arena by the looks of the ribbed steel and believe me it was colder than even Cooper. We were in a tournament there. I think Dave Nickle should be in the picture somewhere and Darryl Wood is to Randy’s left and between myself and Wendell. Wendell was the team manager


    • Harold, thank you!! Great to have the information from the person who would know (you), being the coach and all! So if that’s Darryl Wood between Mike Franks and Randy Gray, and we’ve already ascertained (from other commenters) that the player to the left of my brother John is Randy Declair and the one on the right in the back row is Tim (not Brian) Willemsen, the only player not ID’d is the boy on the far left in the back row. Would that be Dave Nickle?

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